M-Kopa and Jumia Make MIT 50 Smartest Companies List

M-Kopa and Jumia have been named in the 2017 list of MIT’s 50 smartest companies.

Each year Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identifies 50 companies creating new opportunities by combining important technologies and business savvy.

M-Kopa from Kenya ranked at number 34, is the largest off-grid solar operator in sub-Saharan Africa. It offers clean power to consumers in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania for a daily fee. It connected its 500,000th home this spring and has put its new solar TV systems in 60,000 households.

Jumia from Nigeria ranked at number 44, was founded in 2012 and has now become Africa’s first “unicorn” startup, valued at over $1 billion during a $327 million funding round that included Goldman Sachs among its investors.

Now operating all its consumer web services – shopping, travel, food delivery, real estate, cars – under the Jumia name, the company is working to overcome the challenges of e-commerce in the region – clogged roadways, skeptical consumers, lack of internet penetration in some market – to unlock the spending potential of an expanding middle class. To that end, Jumia is launching programs like a network of commissioned sales agents it calls J-Force, which can place orders for clients who have limited online access or are not comfortable ordering themselves.

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